National Funeral Exhibition 2024

Freeman Brothers was first established as a funeral director in Horsham, West Sussex, in 1855. The company now has a further three offices across the county – in Billingshurst, Crawley, and Hurstpierpoint – and continues to engage with colleagues across the industry via memberships of associations. Recently, some of the team attended the National Funeral […]

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Freeman Brothers was first established as a funeral director in Horsham, West Sussex, in 1855. The company now has a further three offices across the county – in Billingshurst, Crawley, and Hurstpierpoint – and continues to engage with colleagues across the industry via memberships of associations. Recently, some of the team attended the National Funeral Exhibition, which Becky shares her thoughts on here…

There are lots of people in my network who find the idea of my job – supporting a funeral director with marketing, community and events – as bizarre, and when I tell them that, every two years, I go to a trade show, they find it even weirder. I attended my first National Funeral Exhibition in 2019 and really enjoyed it! The show is held every other year, and understandably was postponed in 2021. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend in 2022, but was very pleased to return this year.

It is what many people imagine it to be: funeral industry suppliers and partners meeting those who work in the industry. Predictably, this means large stands for those with substantial products such as hearses, limousines, coffins, and storage facilities. Then there are smaller stands which incorporate keepsake items. And then there are the products that many people might not think of: branding and merchandising; marketing support; performers. This year, I was pleased to see that some charities which work in bereavement were also going to be present, and I made it a priority to speak to them and discuss their work. I also attended with an open mind – the funeral industry can sometimes surprise me still!

Hosted by the National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD) at Stoneleigh Park in Warwickshire, the show is held over three days. Some of my colleagues and I attended on the first day, and the atmosphere was one of excitement. It can be the first time we’ve managed to meet face to face with colleagues in industry for a couple of years, and it’s lovely to see familiar faces as well as making new connections.

Some items – which were not so long ago classed as highly innovative – have now become standing features, which is lovely to see. Change isn’t necessarily common within the funeral industry, and a shared value among the Freeman Brothers team is customers having choice, so any products which are new are investigated thoroughly. It’s great to see that items which may have seemed very unusual – such as the idea of sending ashes into space, or having them made into fireworks – are now a normal thing for us in the industry to see.

Keepsakes and stationery seemed to be a big theme this year, with a particular focus in both on greening. With our climate changing around us, the public seems to be concentrating on being more environmentally-friendly, and whilst people still want printed items, they are being more conscious of their choices. At Freeman Brothers, we’ve offered branded seed paper as a giveaway for a while, and at the show I saw this being used for orders of service and other printed items, which I think is a lovely idea.

Several years ago, we had a couple of funerals which provided floral tributes in the form of small plants and flowers, and this seems to be a more popular choice now too, with a number of suppliers offering seed or plant-related favours, which can be personalised in terms of the choice of plant, plus colour or design of the packaging.

The charities I mentioned earlier which I’d spoken to are Widowed and Young (also known as WAY) and Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide (also known as SOBS). The representatives of both were pleased to speak to funeral directors, as they work with bereaved people and are a great link for us to have in terms of signposting anyone who might need their services – keep your eyes peeled, as I’m hoping to present some guest blogs from these important organisations soon.

The NFE in 2024 was a brilliant day out, if you’re a funeral industry colleague who didn’t make it on this occasion, I highly recommend ensuring you go when it returns in June 2026!

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Written by Becky Hughes

Community Co-Ordinator

June 26, 2024

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